The vehicle movement sector has had few tech innovators, so should it be working on smart solutions?
The tech world has been awash with what are trendily described as disruptors to different marketplaces, be it Deliveroo in the fast food sector, Uber’s impact on the private hire market, or even the way Amazon is now a part of everyday life. But some sectors have been slower to develop tech solutions.
Calum Slowther, commercial director at vehicle movement company Engineius tells Company Car Today he believes the vehicle movement sector is one of them.
“Generally speaking, as an industry it hasn’t been disrupted or hasn’t received the funding and the focus, technology and platform disruption,” he says.
“It’s probably fair to say that the vast majority of vehicle movement is still organised at best by spreadsheets and emails, and at worst by phone calls, and pen and paper,” he continues. “And typically, that leads to all sorts of sort of back-to-front ways of working.”
He says too many businesses end up working to the convenience of a vehicle movement company that they’re paying to do the job.
On a smaller scale, he says there are options that will allow customers to enter postcodes for collection and delivery and find the cheapest quote from an array of suppliers, which works on an individual basis, but not for large numbers of movements.
Control of service levels is also difficult under that arrangement. “There’s no standard proof of delivery, one person will use WhatsApp, the next person will use pen and paper, another will use an email,” says Slowther.
“Fleet managers need a one-stop-shop where everything is in one place; when they get that same sort of digitally or tech-enabled convenience that they’re getting in all other walks of life already.”
Fleet managers require a tech solution that can tell their staff exactly when a car will be delivered, and where it currently is – and when they get it, they won’t even feel like it’s a huge step forward.
“Takeaways, or whatever they’re buying on Amazon, get delivered to their door. They can track it and see how far away it is, and the irony is that they can’t do that with vehicles today, and the vehicle’s going to be hundreds of times the cost of the other things they are buying online,” he continues. “Consumer expectations have just moved on.”
But there is a question over whether there is the need for change in an industry that has evolved gently over decades.
“It does need to change, for a number of reasons,” says Slowther. “Because companies, fleets dealers, whoever it might be, are under increasing cost pressure, particularly to reduce overhead fixed costs.”
COVID ACCELERATING CHANGE
There are a number of ways that the Covid pandemic could increase the rate of change in the way tech is required to help improve vehicle movements
- Increased customer expectations due to advances in home shopping
- Disparate workforces complicating vehicle handover/collection logistics
- New requirements for proof of delivery or collection from home addresses
- Greater requirement for shared management software rather than office or paper-based systems
- Greater transparency around handover experience and protocols
ON THE CUSP OF CHANGE?
Engineius commercial director Calum Slowther gives his thoughts on the vehicle movement market
1. Slow progress compared to other sectors
If you want to get a takeaway, or a taxi, or you want to buy something online, that’s changed. But if you want to get your vehicle delivered, it hasn’t.
2. Reduced touch points
If you’re the OEM with the customer relationship, and you’re also working with a dealer, the vehicle movement is often the customer’s only physical touch point with a company. You put so much money into getting a great experience for the customer up to that point, and then you could just lose it as the delivery happens.
3. Integration is integral
It’s not enough to have a bit of paper that the customer fills out to say there’s no damage on the vehicle. It’s not integrated into CRM systems with the rest of the digital journey, that manufacturers, leasing companies or fleets pour so much money into putting together.
4. Tech makes the process visible to the wider world
Maybe in previous times you couldn’t complain on Twitter or Facebook, or it wasn’t as easy to send an email or take a video of your handover experience. But now it’s much easier for complaints, or the differences in experience, to surface and people can readily compare.
5. Means not the end
Technology is the means to a fundamentally better service and experience. Technology is great, but the task from the customer is the same, which is a really good, reliable vehicle-management solution. And so the technology doesn’t really matter. It’s how do you use that to deliver a really good service to the end customer?